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Jan 21

eHealth innovation inequalities

innovationHealthcare is an area where you see major inequalities in the implementation of innovation.  Therapeutics has seen unparalleled advances in technologies in the last two decades with great success stories such as cochlear implants and diabetes pumps changing people’s quality of life. Yet the implementation of technology to support the system that delivers the care that could provide more efficient access, improve quality of care and reduce costs has primarily been the domain of monolithic systems in hospitals and a reducing number of vendors in all levels of care. The focus of these applications has been Making Health Services Work where even though the capacity or will to change is modest, the systems allow incremental changes in response to projected future needs.  Currently, few people working within the  system wants disruptive solutions but can the current problems in healthcare and the threat of turbulent times ahead from pandemics, aging populations and diminishing resources etc., allow this to continue?

3 success factors for innovative technology advances in health care

  • Understand what the problem is they are trying to solve and have a clear vision of the future
  • Tend to be patient focused rather than system focused
  • Have a business model that supports the development, testing, implementation and building trust

3 technical challenges for innovation to work at the system level

  • Interoperability and unlocking the data that exists in the current systems used to allow systems to be extended by other 3rd party applications and vendors
  • Enterprise strategies for handling data from obsolete systems and/or processes without valuable data loss
  • Understanding that this is a transformation initiative not just a technology innovation and adjust all process to include the users

eHealth innovation at a system level needs to have a systems thinking approach to innovation  which must address all six of the critical questions: Why, What, How, Who, Where, and When.  The need for innovation needs to be driven by the business need / strategy and address agreed problems. It cannot be technology driven or the end result may be technology for the sake of technology rather than a step towards the future change needed. I am not saying that this is easy but as we move away from the traditional models of care and towards patient centre care, opportunities exist for new business models that can drive this innovation.  And we are seeing the change at a number of levels with investors  now challenging entrepreneurs to pitch the next big idea in health and the increase of design challenges forums like the Hacking Health events. The biggest challenge for widespread implementation of innovation will be developing models which minimize risk and build trust quickly.

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